Pakistan’s oppn parties blast Sharif govt over ICJ staying Jadhav’s hanging

Agencies/New Delhi
May 20, 2017 INTERNATIONAL 210 Views

Pakistan’s opposition parties have blasted the Nawaz Sharif government over the ICJ’s order staying the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav amid a debate on whether the legal team representing the country at the UN’s highest court should be changed.
Some of Sharif’s detractors even accused the Prime Minister of “selling out” to the Indian side and opposition parties described the International Court of Justice’s decision on Thursday as a “setback for Pakistan”.
There was no official word on whether the government was considering a move to change the legal team at the ICJ, but some senior lawyers said authorities had started sending out feelers about such a possibility.
“Some law firms have been approached by the ministry of law to discuss such a possibility,” said an official of the law ministry in Islamabad.
There was also discussion about hiring a foreign law firm with a record of handling cases at The Hague-based ICJ.
“The consensus emerging in Pakistan is that while the country has a case, it was the legal team that let us down,” commented leading analyst Zahid Hussain.
Foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz told the media that the ICJ’s order would not have any bearing on the legal process currently underway in Pakistan against Jadhav.
“A stay is granted automatically even in our courts when you file an appeal. But it doesn’t mean that you have lost the case,” Aziz, the adviser on foreign policy to the premier, said on Thursday.
The ICJ is yet to adjudicate on the merits of Jadhav’s case, he said. “When that stage comes, Pakistan will forcefully present its case,” he added.
But the opposition accused the government of mishandling the case, with some leaders alleging the ICJ’s order was the result of a “covert deal”, and linking it to Sharif’s recent meeting in Murree with Indian steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal.
Shafqat Mehmood, a spokesman for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, demanded that Sharif disclose all details of his “covert meeting” with Jindal. In a statement, he raised critical questions on the matter and sought an explanation from the premier.
Mehmood asked Sharif to come to the National Assembly and explain why Pakistan did not appoint an ad hoc judge at the ICJ because it had a right to do so, and why the Foreign Office did not take legal advice before initiating correspondence on the issue.
There was also considerable debate on the performance of Khawar Qureshi, Pakistan’s lead lawyer, at the ICJ hearing on Monday. Qureshi, who is part of the London-based law firm Serle Court, became the youngest advocate to appear at the ICJ in 1993.
But opposition leaders questioned why the government had selected a lawyer who had not a single international law case reported from the UK Supreme Court and why authorities had sent a first year associate from the attorney general’s office to the ICJ instead of the attorney general himself.

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